Living in Tokyo

What is the cost of living for a single person in Tokyo?

In this article we take a look at the cost of living in Tokyo for a single working person.

The estimates below are meant to give you an idea of the main monthly expenses you should budget for as a young working person in Tokyo. The expenses for a couple or family with children, or if you are on an ex-pat package or are receiving assistance from your company, will of course vary significantly.

Based on the scenarios below, the cost of living for a single working person in Tokyo is between ¥140,000 (1,268USD) and ¥194,000 (1,757USD) a month, including rent, food, discretionary spending, transportation, and taxes and insurance. However, this is only meant as a general guideline, and your expenses may be quite different.

According to government estimates, the cost of living in Tokyo is about 10% higher than for the rest of the country. If you are moving to a small town, your rent and food expenses will likely be much lower.

The data below is compiled from Tokyo metropolitan government data, interviews with local residents, and surveys of advertised food and alcohol prices at discount Japanese supermarkets, discount restaurant chains, and foreign import food stores as of June 2017. The current JPY to USD exchange rate is about ¥110 yen to the US dollar.

Typical Monthly Cost of Living for a Single Person in Tokyo

 Item Budget Amount Average Amount JPY Notes
Rent 45,000 70,000 “Budget” amount is estimate for a 15-sqm studio apartment located outiside central Tokyo and about a 30- to 45-min train ride to a major Tokyo station.
“Average” amount is estimate for a 20-sqm studio apartment in the 23 Wards but not near a major station like Shinjuku or Shibuya.For detailed data please see: What is the average rent in Tokyo by Ward?
Food 20,000 30,000 “Budget” amount is for someone who rarely eats out and cooks almost all their own meals, including a packed lunch (bento).
“Average” amount is for someone who occassionally eats out.If you eat “conbini” (convenience store) food and at budget restaurants a lot, expect your monthly food expenses to be at least ¥40,000.
Utilities 8,000 10,000 Gas, water, and electricity. Of the three, water bill can vary the most. For example, one way to lower your water bill is to take a bath instead of a shower.
Internet/Mobile Phone 8,000 10,000 Fixed provider fee is between ¥2,000 and ¥3,000 per month.
Socializing/Going out 5,000 10,000 Average for men: ¥15,000, for women: ¥5,000
Clothing/Personal Care 5,000 10,000 Average for women: ¥20,000, for men: ¥5,000
Books, music, movies 5,000 10,000 Including digital music/movie purchases.
Transportation 4,000 4,000 Average cost of a commuter pass. Many employers will reimburse you for your commuter pass, so you may not have this as a work or school expense, but you should still budget for personal travel.
Income Tax / Health
Insurance / Pension
40,000 40,000 Estimate for someone earning a gross salary of
¥250,000 a month. For details please see: “How much can a single working person in Tokyo save a month?
Total 140,000 194,000

Cost of Food

Next, let’s take a more detailed look at the food category, since this is where you can really save money. As anywhere, you can save a lot by buying in-season fruits and vegetables and cooking with local ingredients.

As of June 1st, a revision to the Liquor Tax Law will also require mass retailers to raise the price of beer and happoshu (low-malt beer-like beverages) by about 10%. The price of butter is also expected to rise due to a rise in the price of raw materials.

The prices of groceries cited below are advertised prices by Seiyu, a major Japanese supermarket chain.

Examples of Food and Alcohol Prices in Tokyo (June 2017)

Item JPY Price   USD Price Notes
Liter of milk 200 1.82
Carton of yogurt 138 1.26 450 g package of plain yogurt.
Carton of ten eggs 197 1.80 Eggs are usually sold in cartons of six or ten.
Loaf of bread 138 1.26 Six slices of packaged supermarket bread.
One box of breakfast cereal 448 4.08 About 395g box of imported breakfast cereal.
350g jar of Nutella 717 6.52 Available at import food stores like Seijo Ishii and online at Amazon.co.jp
340g jar of Skippy peanut butter 648 5.90 Available at import food stores like Seijo Ishii and online at Amazon.co.jp
Liter of orange juice 228 2.08 Tropicana brand
Bunch of bananas 100 0.91
One orange 90 0.82
One Fuji apple 140 1.28
One packet of two lemons 150 1.37
One avocado 150 1.37
Head of cabbage 137 1.25
Packet of three onions 100 0.91
Packet of potatoes 200 1.82 About 4 or 5 small potatoes.
Packet of three carrots 157 1.43
One tomato 80 0.73
One packet of cherry tomatoes 150 1.37
One bunch of spinach 117 1.07
One head of lettuce 127 1.16
Packet of three cucumbers 110 1.00
One packet of tofu 119 1.09
5-L sack of rice 1,680 15.28 Akita komachi rice
500g of spaghetti noodles 178 1.62
One 330g steak 617 5.61 Imported American Angus beef (shoulder)
Three pieces of pork chop (330g) 320 2.91 Packet of 3 pork chops.
Pack of two chicken thighs 494 4.50 500g pack
Pack of two chicken breasts 334 3.04 500g pack
Six pack of Japanese beer 1,125 10.23 Six pack of Asahi Dry beer.
Bottle of Guiness Extra Stout 248 2.26 330ml bottle
Bottle of Heineken beer 208 1.90 330ml bottle
Bottle of imported wine 1,505 13.69 750ml bottle of budget French wine
Conbini bento (lunch box) 398 3.62 7-Eleven “Maki no Uchi” bento (rice with fish, meat, pickles, eggs and vegetables and an umeboshi.)
Conbini onigiri (rice ball) 110 1.00
Supermarket store brand cup ramen 80 0.73
Yoshinoya beef bowl 380 3.46 Gyuudon (牛丼)
McDonalds Big Mac 380 3.46
Delivered pizza 1,600 14.55 Dominos Medium “American Special” Pepperoni Pizza

 

You may also be interested in: Cost of Living In Japan, which details cost of living expenses for regions outside Tokyo and How much can a single working person in Tokyo save a month?